If you want to go big, luxury resorts, cruises and even flights will lavish you with all the creature comforts you can stand — for a price.
Do you ever dream of seeing the world in style and comfort — especially comfort? Well, if you’re going to dream big travel dreams, you might as well start with a few dreamy details.
WARNING: Hide your wallet. The dollar signs are about to get scary.
If there is such a thing as a “boutique airline,” this subsidiary of British Airways just might qualify.
Open Skies flies Boeing 757s between the East Coast of the United States and ten gateway cities in France, starting with Paris.
Think of a 757 and you envision a big narrow-body airplane with 180-230 seats, a single-aisle with six seats across. Surely not the most comfortable way to fly to Europe.
Only that’s not how Open Skies rolls. At least, not entirely.
It does come with 60 Economy Class seats (they call them “Eco Class”) in the back of the aircraft — with the usual 31-inch seat pitch, 17.5-inch width and the middle seat that everyone hates.
However, that Eco Class seat also comes with leather upholstery. Your in-flight entertainment comes from an iPad that goes with your seat, pre-loaded with 70 hours of personal entertainment — movies, music, games, the works.
From New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR), your Open Skies flight to France will take a max of maybe ten hours. You’re good.
At the very front of the plane is their Business Class section. When you want to sleep, your seat converts into a fully flat “Biz Bed,” complete with Egyptian cotton duvet, a full-size pillow and your own pajamas.
Your gourmet French meals come with real china and silverware, along with some equally real French wines.
But the section that gets my attention is their premium economy section, which they’ve cutely labeled “Prem Plus.”
Prem Plus is actually similar to what Economy looked like in the early days of the Jet Age. Two spacious, plushly padded leather seats that recline 130 degrees, with an eye-watering 47-inch seat pitch.
Are these lie-flat seats? Obviously not. Will you care? Probably not.
The same iPad as in Eco class, the same classy French cuisine as in Biz class, along with priority check-in and fast-track security screening.
Overall, Open Skies reduces the number of seats to 105 total, meaning more space and comfort for everybody.
All this luxury, even in the relatively minimal Eco section at the back, comes at prices higher than regular airlines. Whether it’s worth the price depends on how much you value — or miss — your comfort when you fly.
Four Seasons Private Jet Experience
The upscale Four Seasons hotel chain is reaching for the skies these days, flying you to their private hotels and resorts around the world in their own — in effect, your own — private jet.
They call it the Four Seasons Private Jet Experience.
The resorts are all 5-star, but you may not want to get off the airplane — 52 seats total, all of them comfy lie-flats.
What else do you get? Plush carpet, leather seats, global wi-fi, gourmet meals.
I’m not sure what an in-flight concierge does, but it might be fun to watch.
(For some, the all-black Four Seasons Jet will remind them of the Big Bunny, the DC-9 jetliner that Playboy magazine magnate Hugh Hefner had converted into his own winged limo back in the 1970s.)
This jet can take you to any one of Four Seasons’ upscale resorts in Europe and Asia. But if you really want to go all-in, they’ve got a round-the-world package, which includes all your flights on this ultimate bird.
Cost? A cool $119,000. That’s a house in the Bible Belt, or a one-car garage in California.
As I always say, small dreams are a waste of sleep.
Luxury Cruise Lines
There are several cruise lines that qualify for 5-star status — with prices to match. This, however, may be the ultimate example of “You Get What You Pay For.”
And what do you get when you pay their eye-watering cabin prices? In a word, everything…and less.
Okay, so that’s two words. Stay with me here.
Luxury cruise lines are big on all-inclusive cruises. Once you pay for your cabin, everything’s covered.
Take Regent Seven Seas Cruises as an example. They list the following items as free:
- Roundtrip airfare to and from the ship
- RT Business Class airfare on European cruises.
- Transfers between airport and ship/
- Shore excursions (unlimited)
- Specialty restaurants
- Drinks, including alcohol
- Open Bars, lounges and your in-cabin mini-bar.
- Pre-paid gratuities for cabin and dining room staff.
- Shipboard wi-fi
Of course, none of these items are actually gratis. They’re covered in the cost of your cabin or suite.
But when you all the out-of-pocket costs during a typical mass-market cruise — shore excursions, spa access, specialty restaurants, drink plans, and shipboard wi-fi — you may find that your champagne cruise tastes and your beer budget aren’t as far apart as you thought.
Other luxury lines that offer similar all-inclusive cruises include:
The “less” aspect involves the number of passengers on board. About 600-700 is usually the max. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships house more than that on one deck.
Fewer passengers means no long waits or long lines, either aboard ship or embarking and debarking.
It also means the ratio of crew to passengers is closer to one-to-one. So there’s always somebody waiting to tend to your every wish or whim.
None of this comes cheaply, so start saving. But hey, don’t you deserve a little self-pampering once in your life?